When my cousin and her family come visit us every Easter, we take a trip to the Tregembo Animal Park in Wilmington, NC. This year, though, due to the state of the world, her trip had to be postponed — and so did our annual zoo trip. But no worries because there are virtual zoo tours you can take right now.
Oh, I know. It’s not exactly the same. During virtual zoo tours you can’t get peanuts and corn to feed the animals or pet any of them. But right now, we have to appreciate the alternatives that technology offers us.
10+ Virtual Zoo Tours
These zoo tours are in alphabetical order because it was a lot easier for me to put the list together that way.
Bronx Zoo (Bronx, New York): With the Bronx Zoo, you can check out the zoo’s Live Cameras to see the Sea Lion Pool (with daily feedings at 11am to 3pm), the lemurs in the Madagascar exhibit, and the Aquatic Bird House (with feedings at 12:30pm at 3:30pm. Funny side note: I started writing this at 12:35pm and actually caught the feeding randomly).
You can also check out the zoo’s virtual zoo, which is really just a static page for its Instagram photos and videos. You can scroll through them to catch a Q&A on penguins, the gibbons in JungleWorld, and more.
Also through that page you can view drawing “zoodles” and watch videos to learn how to draw your favorite zoo animals.
Chester Zoo (Cheshire, England): Each week for five weeks, the Chester Zoo hosted a virtual day on its Facebook page and YouTube channel. It seems like this may have ended on May 1, so you can’t catch them live anymore. But that’s totally fine because all five of the virtual days are available for streaming on Facebook and YouTube. So you can still check out the pythons, casowary, painted dogs, and more.
What’s really cool is this zoo is in England. So you might come across animals you wouldn’t see in a typical zoo in the United States, and that’s fun. It’s like the time we were at the Tennoji Zoo in Osaka, Japan and one of the zoo animals was an American squirrel.
Cincinnati Zoo (Cincinnati, Ohio): The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting a Home Safari every day at 3pm EST on its Facebook page. There will be a post the day before letting you know what will be featured on the next day’s Home Safari. That makes it so easy if you’re homeschooling. You can plan a lesson around the animal being featured. Even better, though, the videos live on the zoo’s Facebook page, which means you can go back and replay them when it’s convenient for you.
Houston Zoo (Houston, Texas): The Houston Zoo has a bunch of Live Cameras you can stream to see animals like rhinos, flamingos, and leafcutter ants. Honestly, this is the only live cam of ants that I know of — and ten seconds into the stream I know why. It’s kind of gives you the heebie jeebies and makes you feel like ants are crawling over whatever desk you’re watching from. So skip that one.
And the zoo has a ton of resources too. Every Tuesday, there’s Zoo Science with a new science experiment, there are art projects and coloring pages that relate to animals, and live distance learning activities like Living With Nature. It’s probably the most “learning oriented” of all zoos on our list.
Oregon Zoo (Portland, Oregon): The Oregon Zoo is going behind the scenes daily on live on its Facebook page and YouTube channel. Some of the videos are narrated, so you can learn about the porcupines, and some are not so you can just watch bears bathing.
What’s really great is that the Oregon Zoo posts at-home activities, which correspond to the live videos. So you can watch the videos then work on the activity after.
Paignton Zoo (Devon, England): You need a disclosure on this one. The Paignton Zoo offers a 360-degree virtual tour. It’s so cool, but it’s also a lot of movement. Even if you’re just looking at the screen, it will move around itself. So if you have any sort of susceptibility to motion sickness, this one is not for you.
If you can handle movement, this one is amazing. You can toggle on points of interest and check out various animals at the zoo. There’s also a map that you can use as a guide. Since it’s a 360-degree view, you can look up and down and around.
San Diego Zoo (San Diego, California): There are a ton of Live Cameras that make up the San Diego Zoo’s virtual zoo. You can watch live footage of baboons, polar bears, koalas, condors, tigers, platypus (which is presented by Animal Crossing: New Horizons) and more. You can also watch archived footage of red pandas, recorded from January through April 2019.
Smithsonian Zoo (Washington, DC): One of my regrets about our trip to Washington, DC is not visiting the Smithsonian Zoo. I heard it was such a good one. You can check out the Smithsonian Zoo via five webcams. The site does note, though, that not all webcams may be available at all time due to the small staff currently operating the zoo.
What I really appreciate about the Smithsonian Zoo is it is offering a free downloadable packet with educational activities for kids in grades K through 5. The activities correspond to the webcams. So, if you’re homeschooling, this is a great accompaniment to the cams.
Taronga Zoo (Sydney, Australia): The Taronga Zoo has really cool virtual tours via Google Expeditions here. There are three different programs broken down by grade levels. A Google Cardboard headset is necessary for these programs.
If not, just click through the long list of animals at the zoo and learn about htem that way.
Zoo Atlanta (Atlanta, Georgia): The big draw of Zoo Atlanta is its live panda cam. Honestly, a lot of these zoos have live cameras on the pandas. I didn’t realize how popular pandas were until I started doing this list.
Zoo Atlanta also offers live virtual events. Salamander Saturday was May 2, World Migratory Bird Day was May 9, and Endangered Species Day is coming up on May 15. There are accompanying activity guides, games, and more for every event. The only bad thing is that, unlike many of the other zoos, the content doesn’t live on the zoos website so you can’t check it out long after the event has ended.
Which of these virtual zoo tours will you take first?